INDIANAPOLIS — The Anderson Countdown is officially off and running.
The Indianapolis Colts this week wrapped up the 2016 offseason workout program by completing their three-day minicamp, which included two days of practices and meetings at the Indiana Farm Bureau Center, but was undoubtedly highlighted by the team's open minicamp practice on Wednesday in front of 10,000 excited fans at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Now, the team faces a month-and-a-half-long "break" until it returns once again, this time in Anderson for the start of training camp on July 26, according to head coach Chuck Pagano.
Between now and then, the team leaders have urged the guys to stay sharp both mentally and physically, as the players who come back even better than they were in minicamp will have a huge leg up going into the preseason.
For now, however, check out some of the top quotes of the Colts' minicamp from the players and coaches, as well as team owner Jim Irsay and general manager Ryan Grigson:
• "I think there was big splash last year obviously, but I think that everyone knows that we kind of feel like if we can play like we did against Denver — and even better — that with some young players we're going to be a heck of a franchise to compete with. We know our division is a lot better, it's going to be tough but we're up for the challenge. We have continuity which is great, with Ryan and Chuck, and Andrew is feeling great. We're excited, we really are." — Owner Jim Irsay, on having a quiet offseason this year as opposed to last year, when the Colts were the "talk of the league."
• "There is really good energy and there is a lot of great communication lines between those three phases. We're all in this together so I think people are excited about a lot, even the current development of the players that we have out here that some of us weren't even that familiar with that are starting to make a name for themselves out here because they're buying in." — General manager Ryan Grigson, on the progress the team has made this offseason after several changes.
• "I think we've had an excellent offseason program. Like I said, the attention to detail, the effort, participation – we all know this is voluntary, but the guys, you can tell these guys are hungry, they're a humble group, they're a tight group. They gave us everything they had for the last eight weeks so time away now this is a very, very important time as we all know." — Head coach Chuck Pagano, issuing his opening statement in his final press conference before the start of training camp in late-July.
• "Yeah, I think physically and mentally I feel like I have gotten better as a quarterback, better as a thrower and better at understanding this offense. It's been a learning process in a sense with Chud (Rob Chudzinski) and he's a great teacher and Schotty (Brian Schottenheimer) are some great teachers. I think the more we've practiced, the more we've gotten our reps in I think the faster we have gotten as an offense. The faster we're playing and that certainly lends itself to confidence." — Quarterback Andrew Luck, on Pagano's comments that Luck has shown noticeable confidence in himself this offseason.
• "I love it. Just me personally, I've always played the underdog role. Right now it looks like the Colts are the underdog, no one is talking about us and that's a good thing. There's no pressure. We aren't worrying about what anyone else is saying, we just to have handle what we have to handle and our goal is to end up in Houston." — Safety Mike Adams, on being more of an under-the-radar team in 2016.
• "The season is made in the offseason. This month of July is probably the most important month of the year. Obviously, the season is the most important but this is kind of what sets up the season. You can't get out of the playbook, you can't get out of doing football stuff. Training camp basically starts July 1st as far as I'm concerned." — Tackle Anthony Castonzo, on what his message to the team — particularly the younger players — during the month-and-a-half off between minicamp and training camp.
• "I've always just naturally taken the role of the leader on this team and I don't think anything really changes with the commitment they made to me. They definitely told me that they wanted me to be a part of this family and my role is my role and I'm going to continue to do my role to try to lead by example and also be a vocal leader when the opportunity presents itself and also continue to work my tail off and make sure I'm one of the hardest working guys on the team." — Tight end Dwayne Allen, on how his perspective has changed about his role on the team after signing a new contract this offseason.
2016 Vet Mini-Camp - Practice #3
• "It's coming along great. I love talking anyways, so me talking to the younger guys and making sure they are in their playbooks and making sure they are in their right spots Andrew (Luck) wants them in. As long as they're helping the team, we should be fine." — Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, on how his growth as a team leader is developing this offseason.
• "One of the smartest guys I've ever been around, obviously. He can connect with pretty much anybody. A very wide-topic kind of guy. It's been good, it's been really good. I'm just kind of developing and learning how to be a professional and obviously watching him every day certainly makes it a lot easier." — Center Ryan Kelly, on how he would describe Andrew Luck now that they've spent an entire offseason program together.
• "Yeah, it's kind of like we've been reinvigorated. New energy, new expectations and everybody is kind of riding high right now so we've just got to put it all together. … Every year you have to earn your spot. It's not given to anybody so you have got to earn it and get to know your coaches because you are going to be around them just as much as you are around your family." — Outside linebacker Robert Mathis, on if there's a different energy this offseason with several new coaches on board.